The Local Ordinary of Mombasa Diocese who was ordained a Bishop in June 2003 warned the Deacons he was about to ordain Priests that they were bound to face a number of challenges but reassured them that with the support of everyone around them, they would succeed in their Priestly ministry.
“This particular step you’re taking is a commitment of life, just like in Holy Matrimony where one leaves their own home and joins their spouse in a different town, a different tribe and even a different nationality. It is a big jump,” Archbishop Kivuva told the four Spiritan Deacons.
In his appeal for the support of the Priests, he added, “That decision (to become Priests) needs support from elsewhere. They need support from their families, from the society, from the faithful you will be serving. That is how the Church works.”
He made reference to the Gospel passage in Matthew Chapter 10 where Jesus tells his disciples that he is sending them like sheep among wolves and told the four Deacons that their Priestly ministry is not going to be always rosy.
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“We know it, that it is never easy. We know it is not a bed of roses,” the Archbishop who has been at the helm of Mombasa Archdiocese since February 2015 said, and explained, “As a Priest, you get a special opportunity to be close to Christ especially through prayer, through the Sacraments and through service to the poor.”
Priesthood, Archbishop Kivuva said, “is a call to follow the example of Christ who washed the feet of his disciples and told them to show the same love and service to others”
“Priesthood is not about ourselves. It’s not that because am a Priest, I have all the privileges. No. Now that you are a Priest, you have all the responsibility to serve,” the 69-year-old Archbishop said.
He added, addressing himself to the Deacons he was about to ordain Priests, “You now have all the responsibility to listen to all voices including the children, the youth, the mothers, not because you have everything but because they see you and they find comfort in knowing that you gave yourself as their brother, their father, and their friend.”
Speaking to the newly ordained Priests, the Archbishop encouraged challenged them, in the words of Pope Francis, to “smell like a sheep.”
“Have the smell of the sheep that you are shepherding. Accompany them in their various challenges, in their sickness and in their health and in their joy and tribulations,” he told the four new Kenyan Spiritan Priests.
Expressing his relationship with the Spiritans, Archbishop Kivuva said, “I don’t just come because I have been invited. I am also a member. Baptized by an Irish in Muthetheni (within Machakos Diocese), confirmed by a Spiritan Bishop in Mombasa... and the rest is history.”
He expressed his appreciation for the first missionaries in Kenya, saying, “Were it not for them, we wouldn’t be here.”
He further appealed to parents to support the vocations of their children desiring to join Religious Life saying that Africa is no longer relying on the missionaries from outside to grow the Church on the continent.
“I would like to remind our parents that Priests come from families,” he said, and explained, “In the past when we had missionaries, there was some thinking that they are manufactured somewhere in Ireland. But as you realize, they went back because of their own challenges.”
“We want to appreciate the encouragement in our families and for their generosity in this regard. And we know that when we give, we also receive. If you do good to others, you do it to yourself,” he said.
In his address at the ordination ceremony, Provincial Superior of the Spiritans in Kenya and South Sudan, Fr. Dominic Gathurithu welcomed the newly ordained Priests in the family of the Holy Ghost Fathers, recognizing the Congregation’s presence around the world.
“As Missionaries, we are invited to spread the Gospel all over the world. That’s why you will find us here in Africa, in America, in Europe, in Asia and in Australia,” Fr. Gathurithu said, highlighting some of the places where the Spiritans serve.
He added, “As a Missionary congregation, we go everywhere we feel that the Church is in deep need of the people to serve the poor. Our goal is that all people get to know Christ and to be his followers.”
He expressed gratitude to God for seeing the Deacons through formation, their parents for supporting them in their call, and the various Spiritans who facilitated their Priestly and missionary formation, including the lay missionaries of the Congregation for joining hands to ensure that the four Deacons become Priests.
Fr. Leonard was commissioned to Malawi while Fr. Wycliff was commissioned to Belgium. The two other Priests, Fr. Timothy and Fr. Laurence, were appointed to serve in their native country, Kenya.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.